Listeria – Gunslingers Edition

12 Nov

The folks at Wild West Magazine put out a special edition called 10 Greatest Gunfighters, and, as a historian of the American West, I had to pick the thing up. It lists the famous gunmen and includes a biography of each one. I didn’t read them in great detail because I already know the stories and the articles seemed to rehash the same old mixture of myth and reality.

Because it is difficult to separate myth from reality, I will not recount the lives of these men here. Instead, here is the list of who they consider to be the ten greatest gunslingers with a few facts about them included. I hope that you will use this as a base to explore the depth of their lives.

Wild Bill Hickok

Real Name: James Butler Hickok

Birth: May 27, 1837 in Homer, Illinois

Death: August 2, 1876 Deadwood, Dakota Territory

Death Fact: Hickok was shot while playing poker and, according to legend, was holding Ace’s and 8’s. Those cards are now known as Dead Man’s Hand.

Bat Masterson

Real Name: William Barclay Masterson

Birth: November 26, 1853 in Henryville, Canada East

Death: October 25, 1921 in New York City

Death Fact: Masterson became a sports writer and died after writing a column.

Billy the Kid

Real Name: William Henry McCarty, Jr.

Birth: Unknown – many believe he was born in New York City in 1859.

Death: July 14, 1881 in Fort Sumner, New Mexico

Death Fact: The Kid was shot by Pat Garrett, sheriff of Lincoln County, but many people believe that it really didn’t happen.

Johnny Ringo

Real Name: John Peters Ringo

Birth: May 3, 1850 in Greensfork, Indiana

Death: July 14, 1882 in Turkey Creek Canyon, Arizona

Death Fact: Ringo was found under a tree with a bullet hole in his temple.

Bill Longley

Real Name: William Preston Longley

Birth: October 6, 1851 in Mill Creek, Texas

Death: October 11, 1878 in Giddings, Texas

Death Facts: Longley claimed to have killed 32 people and was executed by hanging.

Jesse James

Real Name: Jesse Woodson James

Birth: September 5, 1847 in Clay County, Missouri

Death: April 3, 1882 in Saint Joseph, Missouri

Death Fact: James was shot by Bob Ford while dusting a picture hanging on the wall.

Pat Garrett

Real Name: Patrick Floyd Garrett

Birth: June 5, 1850 in Cusseta, Alabama

Death: February 29, 1908 near Las Cruces, New Mexico

Death Fact: Garrett was killed over an argument about goats.

Clay Allison

Real Name: Robert Clay Allison

Birth: September 2, 1840 in Clifton, Tennessee

Death: July 3, 1887 on his ranch near Pecos, Texas

Death Fact: Allison fell off a wagon and suffered a broken neck when a wheel rolled over him.

Doc Holliday

Real Name: John Henry Holliday

Birth: August 14, 1851 in Griffin, Georgia

Death: November 8, 1887 in Glenwood Springs, Colorado

Death Facts: Holliday died of tuberculosis at the Hotel Glenwood.

Kid Curry

Real Name: Harvey Alexander Logan

Birth: 1867 in Richland Township, Iowa

Death: June 1904 near Parachute, Colorado

Death Fact: Logan shot himself rather than being captured by a posse.

16 Responses to “Listeria – Gunslingers Edition”

  1. javaj240 November 12, 2012 at 04:19 #

    With the exception of the “lawmen”, it’s striking how young they were. I had no idea that Bill Hickok was 39 when he died. I knew Doc Holliday was young and that he died from TB, but 36? I had no idea. These guys lived lifetimes in their few years, though, didn’t they?

    • Rick November 12, 2012 at 04:44 #

      They definitely lived eventful lives. It was a rough way to live, though. Violent and mundane at the same time.

  2. Madame Weebles November 12, 2012 at 15:37 #

    That’s a really interesting list—there are a few I hadn’t heard of, but my knowledge of the West isn’t nearly as extensive as yours.

    • Rick November 12, 2012 at 16:21 #

      Some are more famous than others. I’m not sure I would call them all gunfighters, but they were definitely tough characters.

  3. dirt November 12, 2012 at 16:07 #

    As a historian of the Upper Midwest especially on the James family,, Jesse James was not murdered April 30 1882 he went on to live long and prosper life and died in 1946. The folks in Northfield Minnesota actually invited him to be the grand marshal of their parade but he was in poor health at the time.

    • Rick November 12, 2012 at 16:29 #

      Thanks for your comment. I remember scientists presenting a DNA analysis several years ago concerning this issue. I can’t remember if it was conclusive.

      Like Billy the Kid, the death of Jesse James has been shrouded in mystery. Through the years, many people have theorized that they lived into old age. The same has happened to John Wilkes Booth.

      Did those men die when the records shows they did? We may never know for sure. Without solid proof, I must stick to the recorded date. It’s not the day they died that is important. It is the lives they led.

  4. dirt November 12, 2012 at 16:09 #

    Correct that,,, it was April third

  5. paintlater November 21, 2012 at 07:56 #

    Jesse James shot while dusting?! I knew housework was dangerous….

    • Rick November 21, 2012 at 15:26 #

      No joke. Some people believe his death was faked. I think if his life had gone from being a famous outlaw to dusting the house that he may have wanted to die.

  6. Marilyn Armstrong February 3, 2014 at 22:26 #

    But where’s Wyatt Earp? My man Wyatt! I’m so upset at this historic slight! I’m going to need to watch Tombstone again (we know Hollywood movies are always historically accurate, don’t we) to aid my recovery!

    • Rick February 3, 2014 at 22:48 #

      Ha. I went to a historians conference in Tucson, and they took turns disparaging Wyatt’s legacy.

      • Marilyn Armstrong February 3, 2014 at 22:53 #

        I don’t care. I love him. He’s my guy.


  1. A Post About Posts | Surrounded By Imbeciles - June 10, 2013

    […] Hysteria. Get it. Listeria. Anyway, two of those posts have hit the big time. The first is “Listeria – Gunslingers Edition“, and the second is “Listeria – Western Actors Edition“. There seems to be […]

  2. Listeria – Wonders of the World | Surrounded By Imbeciles - July 25, 2013

    […] greatest guitarists of all time; some of the best places to travel; the greatest cowboy stars; the fastest gunfighters; Nashville’s best restaurants; and the best movies of all time. At no point during that time […]

  3. I Can’t Believe It’s Been Two Years | Surrounded By Imbeciles - November 1, 2013

    […] Listeria – Gunslingers Edition – Who was the fastest gun in the West? […]

  4. It Was A Very Good Year | Surrounded By Imbeciles - February 3, 2014

    […] Listeria – Gunslingers Edition (November 2012) is exactly what the title says – a list of the great gunfighters of the West. It probably gets attention because of all the names tagged in it. However, the best part can be found in the comments. Somebody wanted me to know that I had the death date of Jesse James wrong. He faked his death and lived to be an old man. […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: